Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania al-Mashat has visited projects in Upper Egypt’s governorate of Luxor where the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is supporting more than 120,000 people through climate change interventions, awareness and nutrition projects, as well as school meals and other initiatives to help communities become more self-reliant.
Ms Mashat began with the village of al-Boghdadi where she met smallholder farmers. The village is one of 64 villages in Upper Egypt served through a Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) and WFP joint project. This successful partnership helps smallholders face climate shocks, promotes the use of water saving techniques, and offers other innovative solutions. Project participants have increased their incomes by 45 per cent and the project is expanding to reach 1 million farmers in 500 villages by 2023.
The Minister was accompanied by the Governor of Luxor, WFP’s Representative and Country Director in Egypt as well as a delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation.
“Listening to the stories told by the farmers and women entrepreneurs manifests the real human impact these programmes are achieving,” Ms Mashat said. “Concerted efforts are needed to push forward with the United Nations SDGs, with sustainable development of agriculture being a central pillar in this endeavor. Together with WFP, we are focusing on ensuring food security going into the future and empowering communities to build a resilient and green economy.”
Ms Mashat visited a Sun Drying Tomato Unit project which aims to increase the market value of Egypt’s crops and create sustainable communities through integrating gender equality. The Minister noted that the project invests in women’s role in agriculture by employing only women and providing 200 seasonal job opportunities. Women, she said, are regarded as the backbone of the sector and represent around 40 per cent of the labour force.
With high demand for sun dried products in Europe, the project helps raise Egypt’s market value in exports and ensure that families and households become more sustainable. It also contributes to food security through reducing crop losses and increase farmers’ incomes by 30 per cent.
The field mission also included a visit to al-Fatatih community school in El-Toud district, Luxor. This one-room, multi-grade school provides quality primary education for exceptionally vulnerable children aged 6-14 who would otherwise not be attending school. This is the first “smart community school” in Luxor acting as an integrated centre for knowledge to all village members.
Over the past year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) in partnership with WFP, has been transforming community schools into hubs by connecting them to the Internet and providing tablets and other equipment to provide children and their families with an innovative learning experience and knowledge sharing platform. To date, 57 community hubs have been established in 7 governorates in Upper Egypt with a plan to scale up to 1300 community hubs by 2021.
The Minister also met with several women who shared their life changing experience through the “She Can” initiative, a joint programme between the Ministry of Social Solidarity and WFP, where women are trained on entrepreneurship and are provided with concessional micro-loans to start their own income generating projects in an effort to encourage families to keep their children in schools.
“We are proud to have been a strong partner of the Government of Egypt in implementing programmes that are aligned with the Country’s 2030 Vision,” said WFP Representative and Country Director in Egypt Menghestab Haile. “As a result of this solid collaboration, we are able to scale up successful integrated development models to assist more communities in need, especially at such difficult times resulting from the COVID-19 crisis where more and more people are becoming vulnerable.
23 September 2020